As mentioned earlier, Southern Weekly was co-founded by Xu Guoqing and Jiang Dejun, but because Xu Guoqing contributed more funds and was better at business, he became chairman. Xu Guoqing's shares accounted for 55% whilst Jiang Dejun held 35%. With the remaining 10% being in the hands of old employees and small shareholders, Xu Guoqing was the largest shareholder, giving him majority control over the company.
But Jiang Cheng's proposal actually required a 20% share of the book sales and a 15% share stake in Southern Weekly, how could Xu Guoqing not be surprised?
That meant if Xu Guoqing agreed, his share stake would only be 40% and although he would still be the largest shareholder individually, the Jiang family together would have a 50% share stake! And as father and son they would naturally work together.
In that case, Southern Weekly would eventually have the surname Jiang. How could Xu Guoqing agree to that?
Xu Guoqing took a deep breath and raised his head: "Xiao Cheng, what type of joke is this? This plan is even more outrageous than the previous one. How can I agree to this? Where is your sincerity?"
Xu Guoqing tried to remain calm but by the end the anger and sternness in his voice was clear.
Jiang Cheng replied equally serious: "Uncle Xu, I know what you're thinking, but I know what I'm talking about. Don't be angry and first listen to my analysis and reasoning."
"Fine! Speak, say what you've got to say." Xu Guoqing took a few deep breaths and tried to keep his temper down.
Jiang Cheng stared at Xu Guoqing and asked: "Uncle Xu, what do you think of the current development of Southern Weekly?"
Xu Guoqing frowned, he didn't know what Jiang Cheng was playing at but he replied: "It's current performance has declined in recent years, but this is nothing. I am currently revising plans for the future to turn things around, performance will rise again in a few months."
Jiang Cheng shook his head secretly, it seemed that Xu Guoqing still did not see the situation clearly!
Sighing mentally, Jiang Cheng scoffed: "Uncle Xu, let's speak openly. There are no outsiders here. Southern Weekly, we all know in our hearts isn't just declining in performance but falling behind, into passivity. It's so bad that we have to revamp! If there is no change, I'm afraid that Southern Weekly will fail in a few years! I know it and you know it! That's probably why you're so desperate to get your hands on [Stories About The Ming Dynasty]. Right!?"
"You!" Xu Guoqing shouted in anger as he jumped up, pointing at Jiang Cheng enraged.
Jiang Dejun was also taken aback. How could he speak like that to his elders! He quickly stood up and shouted at Jiang Cheng: "Xiao Cheng, how dare you! Apologize to Uncle Xu!"
Although Jiang Cheng's words held some truth, it was still wrong of him to speak to his elders like that.
Jiang Cheng stood up and said to Xu Guoqing: "Uncle Xu, I'm just being straightforward with you. If you really want I can apologize. However, you must be clear in your heart that I am telling the truth. Southern Weekly has fallen behind the times. Since the new century, performance has been declining, last year's sales per day could still be maintained at about 3,500; but now it's dropped to only about 2,000 sales per day, falling drastically closer to the break-even point! Consider that before calling me an alarmist."
Hearing this irrefutable fact, Xu Guoqing sighed and sat down reluctantly, "You're right, Southern Weekly is reaching the point between life and death. It's fine currently but if it's performance continues to plummet like this it will fall.
"Uncle Xu, haven't you thought over the reason why?"
"Of course I have! It's because the Internet is developing too fast, people have more channels of information and Southern Weekly having shifted focus to mainly newspapers and magazines, naturally has taken an impact. Actually, I've wanted to revise the business for a long time, but currently Southern Weekly is really too short on money, and there are too many things that need fixing, so it's dragged on." Xu Guoqing's voice was full of helplessness.
Just then Jiang Dejun spoke up from the side: "I've always said that Southern Weekly was too simple and reliant on the newspaper division and reporting current affairs. We don't even have a literary section in our newspaper despite being a publishing house. How can that be sustainable?"
Xu Guoqing listened and replied with a wry smile: "Old Jiang, didn't we discuss this when we made the shift in focus from book publication to news? A literary section isn't popular! Otherwise, I wouldn't devote all my energy to reporting current affairs. Look, how many of those big newspapers and magazines do this?"
This was the difference between the two. As a traditional literati, Jiang Dejun naturally hoped that the publishing house would use it's newspapers and magazines for literary aspects, such as serializing novels, poems, and prose. However, Xu Guoqing only wanted to publish these directly, so almost all the pages were used for reporting on academia and current affairs.
Jiang Cheng saw them about to argue and stopped them: "Dad, Uncle Xu, you don't need to argue. In fact, neither of you are wrong per say."
"Uncle Xu you're right a literary section is indeed outdated. But like you said just now, the era of the Internet has begun, society is developing faster and faster, which means people require everything else to be faster. People want information as quickly as possible and paper media is far behind the Internet in this respect and will only fall further and further behind over time."
Listening, the two nodded in agreement.
"Dad you're also right. No matter what the situation, the literature aspect of the business can't be neglected and sidelined. Take [Stories About The Ming Dynasty] for example, it became famous because of the Internet. But it's essentially still a novel. Though how quickly it picked up steam just goes to show the influence of the Internet. The Internet will eventually become the mainstream media of society. Therefore, if Southern Weekly wants to develop again, it has to adapt to the trend."
Xu Guoqing couldn't help but ask: "How can we adapt?"
Jiang Cheng replied: "If I were you, Uncle Xu, I would give up on reporting current affairs!"
"I don't know if Uncle Xu heard, but did you know that China is bidding to host the Olympic Games in Beijing?"
"Of course I did."
"Then did you know that China is also applying for WTO entry in addition to it's bid?"
"I've heard whispers about it."
"If both of these are successful, what impact do you think it will have on publishing houses and newspapers?"
"This....I'm...not too sure. "
Jiang Dejun scrounged his thoughts, and suddenly inserted from the sidelines: "Do you mean that after the country's ascension to the World Trade Organization, it will moderate and reclaim newspapers and periodicals?"
"What!? This can't be! How can the government do this?" Xu Guoqing said shocked.
"In order to guide public opinion." Jiang Cheng replied.
"If China fully integrates into the WTO after joining then the country's development will rise to a new level in the next few years. During this period, there will be no other voices in the country; everything will be development-oriented.
Therefore, industry-related newspapers and magazines in the field of current affairs, science and technology, etc, can no longer be held in private hands. The government will definitely withdraw licenses and limit the amount of voices in-order to guide the 'correct' public opinion."
Xu Guoqing was shocked, whilst Jiang Dejun was silent.
Ownership of publishing houses had always been attributed to the state, and private citizens could only act as registered agents to operate them. So if the country wanted to retake control, it would be a breeze and publishers could only watch.
So although they didn't want to believe it, both of them understood that what Jiang Cheng said was likely to be true.
The acceleration of national development not only meant that socioeconomic development would be accelerated, but during this period, problems arising from discontent and social unrest would also multiply. But the state would never allow these problems to threaten development, so it was likely they would deem it necessary to control public opinion and therefore would see it imperative to rectify newspapers and periodicals.
Of course, everything was based on China's ability to join the WTO. Something on which the two could grasp was only a matter of time.
Xu Guoqing smiled bitterly and looked over at Jiang Cheng and said: "Xiao Cheng, what do you think would happen to Southern Weekly if such a thing was to happen?"
Jiang Cheng replied: "Uncle Xu, I'm sure you can already guess, which is why I said if I were you, I would completely abandon current affairs and academic reporting and completely revise Southern Weekly"
Xu Guoqing shook his head and said, "This is too unrealistic."
"Time waits for no man, Uncle Xu. If the country joins the WTO in the second half of the year, it will begin to rectify newspapers and periodicals next spring. You have little more than half a year to act."
"If we were to begin revising Southern Weekly where would we even start?"
"Well you saw the situation with [Stories About The Ming Dynasty] right, like me many literary enthusiasts are now uploading their work onto the Internet, and a lot of them are of good quality. But it's not all traditional literature, but online literature born in accordance to the changing times.
Some of them will be masterpieces, but a lot will be fast food fiction, which is suitable for this society that is developing faster and faster. As to why these authors are serializing their novels on the Internet? It's simple, they can't find publishers willing to publish their books. Because it's an emerging market, many people don't know it's depth and don't dare to enter. But we can!"
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